Why were graham crackers invented? The bizarre history behind the snack

People Googling why graham crackers were invented (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
People Googling why graham crackers were invented (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The unique origin story of graham crackers is amusing the internet after a Twitter joke encouraged people to look up the reason behind the snack’s creation.

This week, numerous posts to Twitter have circulated with the same sentiment: “Please Google why graham crackers were invented.”

“Just Google why graham crackers were invented and ruin your day,” another tweet reads.

The plea has led to more than 200,000 searches by people doing just that, with those curious enough finding out that graham crackers were created in an attempt to quell the sexual desires of Americans in the early 1800s.

The idea behind the now-popular snack was started by Reverend Sylvester Graham, a Presbyterian minister from Connecticut who was convinced that sexual urges, including masturbation, were making people physically ill and leading to depravity.

“In Graham's view, the correlation between sex and health was simple: the more immoral the activity, the more bodily harm was done,” The Atlantic notes.

And, according to Graham, diet played a large part in flaming these urges, with the minister believing that eating meat and fat led to sexual excess.

To reduce rampant sexuality, Graham suggested that Americans follow a strict high-fibre, vegetarian diet, which included using his “homemade unsifted wheat flour instead of refined white flour,” according to Snopes.

Graham’s own version of bread, a bland cracker, which he believed the answer to processed white bread, eventually became known by his name.

While it is debated whether Graham actually created the first graham cracker - as some reports state the recipe for the snack didn’t come around until nearly 30 years later - the cracker still bears his name.

Unlike the graham crackers of the past, however, current variations typically come covered in sugar or honey, with the cracker often seen smushed against melted chocolate and marshmallows to make s’mores.

On Twitter, reactions to the snack’s origin have ranged from amusement to shock, with many revealing they did not know the original crackers were meant to discourage sexual desire.

“I just Googled why Graham crackers were invented and I’m so confused,” one person tweeted.

Another said: “Ok but Graham crackers are so good and gave us s'mores so sometimes beauty can come out of trying to stop masturbation.”